With an Australian mother and a seafaring Devonian father, travel must be in my blood. When I was seven and living in Putney SW15, Mum broached an old bottle of Seppelt’s “champagne” to celebrate Dad’s homecoming, and perhaps the die was cast: wine’s in my blood too. Thus, in the mid-80s, my artist wife Elizabeth Hannaford and I fell in love with an ancient house – lieu-dit Le Château – in a small wine village in Languedoc. In 1998, on holiday in Cape Town, we bought John Platter’s impeccable guide to the South African vineyards. Liz said I should write the Languedoc equivalent.
So, in 2002 the first “Gorley’s Guide” was published, with blurbs kindly supplied by Jancis Robinson MW and Kermit Lynch. The book sold out over a couple of years. Readers, including UK wine writer Malcolm Gluck, were complimentary. From the Millennium onwards, tracking the development of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region became my obsession, fuelled by value-for-money wines and the excitement as Masters of Wine bought houses, and many Brits and other outsiders bought vineyards around us. The region has blossomed.
This second edition has taken almost a decade to assemble. Many kilometers have been driven, a vast amount of tasting done, and rather a lot of buying. Generous winemakers have also gifted me fine bottles. Wine shows in London and Languedoc, local fêtes, open cellar doors, and wine trails – sentiers gourmands – have helped flesh out my coverage of the region. My notebooks have filled with decreasingly legible tasting notes.
The winemakers may also see photos of themselves when younger, like mine above!